CONSIDER planting colourful dogwoods (Cornus), Salix and whitestemmed Rubus shrubs, for a winter display.
* Tidy up leaves from around borders. They can be added to the compost heap, or placed in separate bins to make leafmould. Some leaves, such as plane and sycamore, are slow to break down, and can delay compost if you mix them into the general heap. Leafmould makes an excellent soil improver, and can also be used as a seedsowing medium.
* Watch out for downy mildew and black spot on winter pansies.
* Check chrysanthemums regularly for signs of white rust.
* Transplant trees and shrubs growing in unsuitable positions. If they are more than a couple of years old, you are unlikely to be able to remove an intact enough rootball to ensure the plant’s survival, and you may be best advised to leave well alone.
* Check tree stakes and ties are secure and will withstand the winter weather; ensure that ties are not strangling trunks or branches - they may need loosening.
* Holly leaf blight is still uncommon, but can be spread in wet weather.
* Many pests can overwinter in nooks and crannies in the glasshouse structure (especially in wooden houses), and in the bark of woody houseplants and vines. Mealybugs and scale insect nymphs are commonly found and should be picked off. Grape vines often have their old bark stripped off before winter, to reduce the number of hiding places for pests like these.
* When bringing plants into the house or greenhouse, check them carefully for any pests and diseases they may have picked up in the garden. Unhappy-looking plants can always be tipped out of the pot to examine their rootballs for signs of over or underwatering, or for soil pests like vine weevil larvae.
* Put up insulating material such as bubble wrap on the inside of the greenhouse, if not already done.
* Avoid walking on lawns on frosty mornings. It can damage the grass and often leads to brown footprint-shaped marks. Watch your lawn for signs of waterlogging, as the weather gets wetter. You may be able to remedy this with some maintenance either now, next spring, or the following autumn.